How to Develop a Call-to-Action (CTA)

Do you want your customers and prospects to do something like sign up for your newsletter, call you for a consultation, or attend an event you’re hosting? Having a solid call-to-action (CTA) can do wonders to help with any of these items. Read on to find out more tips and tricks to help you get your readers to do what you want them to—and soon.

What is a CTA?

A universal marketing term, your call-to-action is an essential part of your email, collateral, advertisements, social media, website, landing page and whatever other marketing materials you have. It tells your target audience what they should be doing and directs them towards the action you want them to take (e.g. buy, click or call).

Calls-to-action are typically at the bottom of a web page, at the end of a blog post, sprinkled throughout a website, or included in social media posts. You’ll usually find in them in the form of a clickable image or link or a button that stands out from the other text and images.

The best ways to use CTAs  

Calls-to-action can be a massive driver for email and frequently may be the email’s only purpose: to get readers to perform a task. A good call-to-action is persuasive and compelling. It should also be more descriptive than “click here”; use command verbs to make it clear exactly what clicking a link or button will lead to:

  • Read More on The Blog
  • Download the App
  • Buy Now
  • Order Yours
  • Compare Prices

Readers also need a reason to complete your call-to-action, so you should ensure that the content directly related to the button or that the link clearly shows the benefit of taking the action and/or is adequately explanatory. Make sure the button or link stands out from the rest of the email; use a contrasting or color-changing button, or have the link appear in bold.

Website/Landing Page
The call-to-action is a key element on a webpage, acting as a signpost that lets the user know what to do next. Without a clear CTA, the user may not know the next steps to take to purchase a product or sign up for a newsletter and is likely to leave the site without accomplishing their task. For example, on a blog the CTAs might look like:

  • Read more about xx
  • Sign up for our newsletter
  • Get the download
  • Connect with us
  • Register for this event

Place your call-to-action in a location where it's easily visible to your visitors and makes sense for someone to click it, and make sure it is easily identifiable from the rest of the content on the page. For example, you might place a CTA to get a free consultation under the description of the security assessment you offer customers. Use calls-to-action on your website pages to:

  • Drive prospective customers to convert to leads via a landing page form
  • Convert existing leads into customers
  • Promote an event

While it’s tempting (and easy!) to just slap a “call now” or “sign up here” call-to-action on an advertisement, it’s probably not going to drive as many conversions as a well thought out CTA. Although generally speaking your CTA should be concise, that does not always equate with being the shortest. As with calls-to-action on webpages and emails, the CTA in advertisements should stand out color-wise

You need a strong call-to-action that will actually convince people they need to act—and now. The succinctness and directness of a well-written call-to-action will put the focus on what’s important and remove any distractions. One of the easiest ways to get ad clicks is if the call-to-action asks audience members to do something they already want to do. Some examples include:

  • Learn more about xx
  • Try it free
  • Watch a demo
  • Get started
  • Start saving now
  • Check out the full guide
  • Shop the sale

REMINDER: It is always a good idea use language such as “try it” rather than “join,”  as that is slightly less committal and may make visitors more confident when clicking. Another good way to make your CTA more effective is to get creative with the pain points that you’re targeting (Start saving $XX per year).

Social Media
No matter which social media channel you use, there is nothing more important than a high-quality CTA. Social calls-to-action don’t have much time or space to generate an impact, so it becomes your job to be as concise as possible. These CTAs should both accurately and succinctly tell your audience why they should be taking action.

Remember, social media should always be about real relationships; use humor (if applicable) or other tongue-in-cheek references to humanize your brand, giving it a little more spice and helping to drive interest and, more importantly, action. Similar to your advertising CTA’s, social media should be as concise and direct as possible; choose your command verbs wisely:

  • Like
  • Click
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Download

Quick Tips for writing exceptional Calls-to-Action

  • Use a strong command verb to start your CTA
    • Buy, Shop, Order
    • Download, Subscribe
    • Find out how, Fill out a form
  • Use words that provoke emotion or enthusiasm
    • Use an exclamation point!
  • Give your audience a reason why they should take the desired action
    • What’s your unique selling point? (e.g., Free)
    • Make them think they’re missing out if they don’t take the action (create a sense of urgency)
      • Sale ends Tuesday
      • While supplies last
      • Limited time offer
    • Make sure your CTA is compatible with mobile
      • Google gives you the ability to set a mobile preference for your ads, so you can designate certain ads to only appear for searches completed on mobile devices.
    • Using numbers in CTAs is very effective – try to utilize them when you can
      • Consumers respond well to seeing numbers such as pricing, discounts, promotions, incentives, etc.
    • Make your CTA stand out visually
      • Contrasting colors and different shapes or images
      • Size matters; Your button text should be large enough to read easily, but not so large that it looks obnoxious or intimidating
    • Don’t be afraid to be creative
      • Try something new (e.g. a landscaper might try “Is your lawn looking sad ; we can help make it happy again”
      • Try some fancy new graphics or fonts
    • White space is good
      • Your CTA buttons should always have a decent chunk of white space surrounding them; it will help to call the users’ attention to the button by ensuring it stands out.

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As Digital Marketing Manager at TBI, Amanda is responsible for creating and writing engaging content and assisting with internal and external communications programs. She manages a portion of the digital marketing efforts for both the TBI and Omni Center teams, including social media strategy and execution.  You can reach Amanda at connect with her on LinkedIn.